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following pages regard will be paid exclusively to those problems which arise on contemplating the simple fact of disembodiment and its consequences; and no attempt whatever will be made to construct any theory of the outward conditions of the surviving Self or its possible environment. Further, it must be understood that it is rather with the hope of stating such problems with some fresh clearness, and leaving the reader to choose between the dilemmas which arise, than with the bolder ambition of offering a solution of them, that I have engaged in this task. Only in a few cases has it seemed to me that there are indications sufficiently obvious to enable us to decide with some degree of confidence regarding the true answers to the eager questions of our hearts. To avoid perpetual circumlocutions, I shall speak generally of the disembodied Self as the “Soul,” without thereby intending to commit myself to any particular theory associated with the word, either as distinguished from Matter or (according to the ancient pneumatology) from that much-misleading term, “Spirit.”*
* It may perhaps aid a little to bring reader and writer to mutual comprehension in these obscure researches, if I say that such idea as I have been able to form of the rationale of Immortality is, that Life, vegetative, animated, conscious and self-conscious, forms a series of evolutions, not merely in the sense of a higher and more elaborate organization, but of a subtler
essence, a series of sheaths out of which finer and finer shoots grow successively, till at last comes the Flower of full Consciousness, into whose heart the Divine Sun pours His beams directly, and wherein is formed a Seed which does not perish when the petals fall in the dust. The stage of being at which something, self-conscious or otherwise, survives the dissolution of the body may be—nay (in my humble opinion), is almost certainly—a lower one than we have been accustomed to consider. A few only out of the grounds of faith in human immortality apply to the immortality of the higher brutes; but human immortality being assumed as a given fact, and a future life for man being predicated as normal, the physiological laws (whatever they may be) under which such survival takes place in our case, are almost sure to apply to creatures many of whom possess intelligence and sentiment far surpassing those of human infants. The great argument of Justice of course applies to ill-used and innocent beasts with even greater force than to similarly ill-used but more or less guilty men.
I. With regard to the Intellectual part of us which may survive dissolution, the difficulties seem even more abstruse and insoluble han those which concern the Love which may be renewed, or the Justice which may be fulfilled hereafter. Is Knowledge, such as we gain on earth, an everlasting treasure? Can we lose it, any more than we can lose the food which we have swallowed, and which has gone to make up the tissue of our frames? Or, on the other hand, can we keep it, and carry it with us, entering the higher state, one of us as a philosopher, and the other as a boor? If this last hypothesis be the nearest to the truth, then we ask, Whether all kinds of knowledge, or only the knowledge which deals with Nature or eternal things, have value in the other world ? Thus we find ourselves conducted to the practical query, Whether the education of earth ought not to be carried on with reference to the probable value of mental acquirements beyond the sphere of human concerns ? The common and orthodox notion of Immortality seems to be, that the silliest or most ignorant person admitted into heaven instantly becomes wiser than Plato, and far better acquainted with science than Humboldt. But even new organs, new capacities, new revelations, can scarcely convey such knowledge and wisdom instantaneously. The philosopher who has eagerly sought some hidden truth, may find the light immediately break on his soul; the man of science who has thoroughly understood and ardently endeavoured to untie the knots of creation's mysteries, may be enabled to loosen them by the help of fresh faculties and wider vision. But it seems well-nigh nonsense to talk of a clown who has no notion that there are hidden truths or mysteries waiting explanation, to receive the whole flood of quasi-omniscience into the narrow mill-dam of his soul. “To him that hath shall be given.” For him that hath not, some rudiments and dawning rays of knowledge seem all that he is capable of receiving. The Hottentot who died in his kraal an hour before Sir John Herschel, did he learn in that hour more about the laws and motions of the heavenly bodies than Herschel knew? Or were Herschel's illumined eyes able to take in at a glance what the Hottentot will take years to learn, when, as the old Greek epitaph on Thales has it, “he was removed on high because his eyes, dimmed by age, could no longer from afar behold the stars”?
The difficulty of conceiving how any mental act is hereafter to be performed without a brain, which hither-. to has been performed—if not "by,” yet invariably “ with” and “through” the brain-has been undoubtedly immeasurably heightened by recent physiological discoveries which have tended more and more at each step to connect both Thought and Memory with changes in cerebral matter. Dr. Carpenter's very remarkable paper in the Contemporary Review for May, 1873, “On the Hereditary Transmission of acquired Psychical Habits," goes very far indeed towards identifying alike the consciousness of present sensorial impressions and the memory of past ones, with physical changes in the brain; and, however willing we may be to retain the notion that there is a Soul in all cases (except perhaps those of unconscious or involuntary cerebration), present and active, using the brain as its instrument, and no more identifiable therewith than the organist with his organ, we still find ourselves face to face with an appalling problem when we try to imagine any way in which a Brainless Soul can think or Remember. The two hypotheses open
to us in the matter are, to suppose either, first, that the thing which we speak of as the Soul has many powers undisclosed now, while it is wrapped in the sheath of the body-powers to Perceive (as magnetized persons have been supposed to do) without use of eyes or ears, and corresponding powers to Remember without a Note-book Brain; or, second, that (as Leibnitz insisted with regard to every finite intelligence) the Soul is necessarily always clothed with a material body more or less rarefied, and that it finds in its future "spiritual
body” of the old Pauline type, fresh organs of consciousness. Of these abysses of speculation the present writer has no intention to do more than skirt the edge, merely refusing to cover them up, as is too often done, with cut-and-dried phrases, like traps awaiting us in the hours of doubt and darkness. The strain on moral and religious Faith caused by the difficulties attendant on every theory of a Life after Death is simply enormous; and the more plainly we recognize that it is so, the safer
He is a foolish engineer who refuses to testlest it should break down under the strain—the stre of the bridge over which ere long everything dear to him must pass. One point, however, regarding these solemn problems may, I think, here be justly noted, having in effect come out into much clearer light than heretofore in consequence of the physiological discoveries above mentioned. The hypothesis of a re-clothing of the disembodied Soul with a new body is now the less tenable of the two, unless we are prepared to anticipate an obliteration of Memory. It will not suffice to believe that fresh senses may be developed in a future frame. Such senses might properly reveal to us our future surroundings, as our present ones reveal those which are now present. But it is not conceivable that they should reveal the Past; and if the memorial tablet of the brain be lost, it would appear that we must needs find our new organ of thought a tabula rasa.
Thus we are shut up in the dilemma that either the Soul carries its own Memory with it (in which case it would seem